T Nation

Job-Related Workout

I work at a plant nursery. I’m constantly outside in the heat lifting and moving light to heavy trees and shrubs. I do a lot of what might be labeled as “endurance” work along with intense lifting. For example:

  1. I work in the tree beds digging trenches, then “deadlifting” large trees, walking them 10 or 15 feet, and setting them down.
  2. I lift sod, walk with it, and put it in customers’ trucks.
  3. I pull heavy carts up and down a slight incline.

Those activities are listed to give you a taste of the kind of work I do all day long. Suffice to say, I’m beat when I get home! Most days I’m too tired to do any additional workout. I eat a large dinner, have a protein shake, relax for awhile, then eat some almonds or some vegetables and drink some water before I go to bed. I also eat throughout the day. My main question is: will this type of job be an adequate replacement for weight training? (I’m 5’10, 160 lbs, with about a year of training experience.)

Also, does anyone have any tips that I be might able to use in order to minimize my recovery time? Thanks in advance.

I did concrete and tree work for a long time and found a few good things to help.

  1. Keep a steady infusion of calories comming in. Probably abut 6000 a day. Decent but light breakfast, double scoop protein shake with whole milk plus some type of fruit in between breakfast&lunch, avoid a heavy lunch but be sure to get what you need, another shake mid day, then dinner, another shake, then bedtime dinner.

  2. A short (30-45 min.) nap and shower allways helps. It’s like hitting a reset switch on the day/evening.

  3. Don’t overtrain the stuff you use all day in an attempt to get stronger at what you do. Train out the weakness.

Good luck.

Although I am not saying that you don’t do hard work, it sure sounds like you do, it just doesn’t take the place of workouts. It will build work tolerance, your body and strength in general, and in my experience of years of labor, most importanlty guts and work ethic.
But I do not feel it hits your muscle groups specifically, or you are going in levels close to your max.
Look at veteran laborers. Most of this guys are skinny and wiry, or thick with a gut. Rarely do you find one who looks like a lifter, that doesn’t actually lift.
A few points to aid your recovery:
Hydration. Drink lots of water throughout the day and evening. You may be to busy to drink, but find time. A gallon a day is on the conservitive side.
Eat, eat, eat. Enough said here, look at other threads for more.
Sleep. If you can, try a quick nap after work.
Try to keep your lifting short and sweet. Focus on a few compound excercises, don’t train to failure, and rotate lifts throughout the week. With all the activity you do during work, a workout doesn’t need to be more than 15 sets max, maybe 3-4 lifts a session.

Thanks SkyzykS and combatmedic for the advice. In regards to breakfast, I usually eat plain oatmeal with one scoop of protein powder and 2 scrambled eggs. During the day I carry around a water bottle and refill it regularly, so I’ve got the hydration covered.

For lunch I usually have a chicken or turkey sandwich, an apple, and a peanut butter sandwich. Is that too much at one time? I’ve read a lot of Dr. Berardi’s articles, and I understand the principle of constant calorie intake, but I’ve never been sure of how much to eat per meal.

combatmedic,
I see what you mean about lifting. I mostly work my shoulders, legs and back at work. I’ll work my chest and arms at home. Also, the nap thing sounds good. I’ll do it.

I work at a home improvement store in the garden center, and constantly lift sod, trees, bags of dirt, etc.

While I am also tired at the end of the day, I do not feel that I have had anything even close to an actual “workout”.

I keep protein bars in my pockets at work and eat those (discreetly) whenever I can. Lunch is always as much food as I can handle. Don’t skimp on calories.

As far as being too drained to workout after you get home: Lift before you go to work. I’ve done this and been fine at work, since it’s not like I’m going for PR’s with trees.

I’ll echo what someone else said about laborers usually being wiry. This is certainly the norm for the type of job we do - which seems counterintuitive, but nonetheless, which is the norm.

So, lift hard before you go to work. Eat a shitload after that and whilst working. You’ll make gains.